Here it is: part two of our top ten most influential January transfers for 2013. In this edition, we reveal who we believe will prove to have the greatest impact with their new teams.
Don’t forget our criteria for the list: what impact will the player have in the next five months, how that impact will extend into the future, and how much of a bargain the transfer will prove to be. If you need a refresher as to who was in part one of our top ten, have a look here. Otherwise relax, and enjoy a complete summary of our top five most influential January transfers.
5. Didier Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua to Galatasaray)
Drogba’s Chinese stint with Shanghai Shenshua was neither lengthy, nor prosperous. It was rumoured that a return to England was imminent, however Turkish side Galatasaray snapped him up for five million euros before anyone else could sink their teeth in.
The Ivorian’s impact on Chelsea’s Champions league win last season cannot be overstated. With Galatasaray having more than a realistic chance of progression to the last eight of the competition, a vision of Drogba doing the same for Gala as he did for Chelsea was no doubt in Faith Terim’s mind when he made the signing.
Drogba’s addition to an already able bodied list of strikers will make the Turkish outfit capable of scoring against anyone. Baros, Elmander, Yilmaz and Drogba are all well known names. However, if Terim is expecting Drogba to replicate the form, passion and inspirational play of last year’s competition, he may be solemnly disappointed. It’s unreasonable to expect the same effort two years in a row from an aging legend, and furthermore, unlikely he will stay for long at the club.
4. Demba Ba (Newcastle United to Chelsea)
What is there to stay about Fernando Torres that hasn’t already been said. Failure? Flop? Waste of money? The list goes on. And so when Chelsea sold Daniel Sturridge and brought in Demba Ba for a lowly fee (lowly for Chelsea, anyways) of seven million pounds, Chelsea fans must have been ecstatic.
Although money isn’t really an issue at Stamford Bridge in these days, bringing in Ba is the best piece of business in recent times for the blues. Chelsea’s system requires a lone striker who can finish swiftly and capitalize on service from those behind him. A striker in any team is meant to score goals, and while some systems rely on that notion more than others, in no formation is a striker’s job more clear-cut than in the one Chelsea play.
This season, Ba has scored fourteen goals in league play; only four less than the prolific RVP. Torres’ count on the other hand, lingers at seven.
It’s really a no-brainer who Chelsea ought to start, and their need of a striker who can simply and purely score goals is long overdue. In Ba it seems, they have found a player who can fill that role.
3. Wesley Sneijder (Internazionale to Galatasaray)
Once thought of as amongst the best players in the world, Sneijder’s fall from utter stardom has been quite something. Over the last two years he has struggled to fit in at Inter, and it was no surprise that he left Italy. What was somewhat of a surprise was that he was on his way to Turkey and Galatasaray.
It wasn’t long ago that Manchester United were chasing his signature for the hefty sum of more than twenty million. His value has diminished since that time however, and Galatasaray bought him for ten million pounds, making a statement of ambition.
Terim likes to deploy a standard 4-4-2 with his team, however it’s difficult to see Sneijder fitting the mould as one of two central midfielders well. A change of shape may be needed to accommodate his attacking prowess in the side.
At 28 years of age, he should be in the prime of his footballing career. However, even if Sneijder struggles to recapture the same form he was in two years ago, he will still be a superb asset for Galatasaray to have and could help them to re-establish themselves as a European power, as well as dominate the Turkish game.
2. Lewis Holtby (Schalke 04 to Tottenham)
How Tottenham managed to capture Lewis Holtby for the modest fee of one and a half million pounds and avoid too much media chatter about the incredible bargain they had just received is astonishing.
Holtby was certainly one of, if not Schalke’s crown jewel and to sell him for that low of a fee to Tottenham, even after making an advancement on the pre-contract agreement doesn’t make much sense. Their replacement for him is the Brazilian Michel Bastos on loan, however, his services are unlikely to provide the same dynamism and ability to run the match that Holtby gave.
So as we criticize Schalke for throwing away most of their hope of a last eight spot in the Champions league, Tottenham have gained an invaluable asset.
With Sandro injured, AVB has already begun Holtby’s integration into the squad. Tottenham face battles with Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton and Liverpool for two Champions league spots, Tottenham need all the firepower that they can muster to secure a spot.
As big an impact as Holtby will have for the remainder of the season, it’s the future that we look to as the real prize in the bargain. As one of Germany’s best, most promising young players, he may well develop into one of the best in England. In Tottenham, he has the club to get sufficient game time at a high level, but without the same weight of expectation that comes with the names Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and United.
1. Mario Balotelli (Manchester City to AC Milan)
We bet you were wondering when you would see this name on the list. As controversial as the choice for number one is, we believe Balotelli being back in Italy will be as good as anything for the young maverick.
At Manchester City there was an indescribable feeling that whenever Balotelli set foot on the pitch, people were hoping for antics more than they were goals. It was an environment where Balotelli was pushed aside to make room for Aguero and Tevez, and you can only imagine how he might have felt about Tevez’s return last spring after his disgraceful run of behaviour. Of course Balotelli had his chances there, but a personality like his is one that needs the spotlight and reliance of others and that’s something he never received in England.
Now that he is out of striking distance of the English press, his focus will sharpen. Milan seems an excellent fit for him, and a partnership with Stephan El Shaarawy could become the best young strike duo in the world. Against Barcelona in the Champions league he will provide a physical presence enough to hassle Pique, Puyol or Mascherano, and he possesses the ability to score from nothing, as we saw in the Euros against Germany. Furthermore, he’ll help to recuperate Milan’s wavering domestic form.
There is no denying that Mario Balotelli is a supreme talent, and we believe that his addition to Milan will provide more goals, less antics, and a perfect platform for him to shine. And if it doesn’t, who ever said influence had to be positive?
Don’t agree with our top 10? Think we’ve left someone out that deserves to be in? Tell us your thoughts by submitting a comment